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How to Decorate a Floating Shelf

by Laura Leiva

Well-decorated floating shelves

Floating shelves can give any room an updated look with their modern design. They are simple to install, fill empty wall space and allow you to easily display knickknacks, decorative items and books. More than a place to store things, floating shelves can be accent pieces if you follow these tips on how to decorate them.

Decorating Floating Shelves:

  1. Hang the shelves in an interesting way. They often come in pairs, so decide if you want to hang them parallel or off-centered, as shown. If you plan to display large items, be sure you leave enough room between the lower shelf and the upper shelf. You may want to sketch the shelves and the items you want to display on them before you start putting holes in the wall. If you want to display heavy items, use drywall anchors and screws to hang the shelves; nails don't hold as much weight. Use a level and measure and mark the place where you are going to make holes before you drill.

  2. Start by placing large items. A tall plant, a framed art print, a vase or a small sculpture on each shelf will add visual interest to the shelves. One popular trend is to display a single letter (usually the first letter of your first or last name) or a word that describes you. If you don't have one large item, try grouping similar pieces, whether it's by theme, color or texture. An example of this would be decorative boxes stacked on top of one another. If you have two floating shelves, try placing the tall item in the center of one shelf and to the side of the other. If you are just using one, you could place one item to the side or place similar items at each end of the shelf.

  3. Add smaller pieces. For visual interest, make sure that your display pieces are of different heights. If your display pieces all happen to be the same height, simply stack a few books underneath one or two of your accent pieces to give them a more varied height. Try creating a triangle, with the large item as the top and the smaller items angling out.

  4. Step back and take a look. Be sure to look at the shelves from the angles in the room where you often sit. Make sure it is pleasing from that spot. You may want to leave for an hour and see what you think when you walk back into the room later.

  5. Make changes, if needed. Are your favorite items visible? If you have displayed a candle, will you be able to light it without any fire hazards? If you have displayed items that you use often, can you reach them easily? Are there any items that are too small to be visible? If you have displayed a plant, will it get the sunlight it needs?

  6. Edit the collection occasionally. A floating shelf can be a living art gallery if you change the items now and then. You could rearrange the items that are there to freshen the scene, or you could add seasonal pieces throughout the year.

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